Get healthy or get tough. Thats the two options facing South Pointes football team.
Friday night there wasnt much they could do about the former, so the Stallions got tough, knocking off Nation Ford 43-14 to stay unbeaten on the season. Strait Herrons team was missing its two biggest stars in quarterback Devin Pearson and defensive tackle Zeek Rodney, but it hardly mattered as junior Davonta Blake stepped in under center and barely missed a beat, while the South Pointe (7-0, 3-0) defense intercepted Nation Ford (5-2, 2-1) six times to stymie the Falcons high-flying offense.
I was worried all week, said Herron, whose team is ranked third in the state behind Byrnes and Goose Creek. Nation Ford can score a lot of points and offensively we were gonna have to control the ball.
They did that thanks to the solid performance from Blake. He completed 20-of-33 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns, and more importantly, only turned the ball over once. Blake showed good passing ability, especially on a 32-yard touchdown dart to Kyle Brandt in the back of the end zone that put South Pointe ahead 29-7 in the second half.
An insatiable run game eased Blakes night too. Senior C.J. Pendergrass racked up 118 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries and junior bruiser Josh Brice added 71 yards on 13 touches. The two combined for three rushing scores and more than made up for Pearsons absence.
A playmaker like Devin goes out, you always gotta have other guys step up and we were able to do that, said Pendergrass. We cant get healthier but we can always get tougher. Hit the weight room this week, have other players keep stepping up.
South Pointes offense hardly missed Pearson, and its defense barely missed Rodney, who left the game early with a hyper-extended left elbow. His return for next weeks game against Rock Hill is questionable at best.
Cody Blake and Anthony Johnson had two interceptions each to lead an aggressive Stallions secondary. Dijuan Ussery took a short pass and blazed through South Pointes defensive backfield to tie the score at 7-7. It was an eye-opener for the Stallions secondary, which played almost perfectly the rest of the way.
It was a big wakeup, said Cody Blake, because we couldnt get our hands on him, hes real fast.
Helms six interceptions were more than hed throw all season, as the Falcons got off to a 5-1 start, the best in school history. But Helms and the Nation Ford traveling support might have known it was to be a rough night when Devin Starnes intercepted the junior on the games first play. The Falcons were able to pop the ball out of Starnes grasp and recover in the end zone for a touchback, but it was a play with more than a hint of omen about it.
South Pointe claimed the opening lead with an imposing 11-play drive capped off by Pendergrass 1-yard touchdown run. It took Nation Ford one minute to tie the game. A.K. McCoys kickoff return got the Falcons near midfield and Dalton Helms hit Ussery with a short slant that the speedy senior took 45 yards to the end zone.
South Pointe duly marched back down the field, but Blake threw a pick in the end zone, Brandon Cureton making the defensive play for the Falcons. The Stallions stopped Nation Ford though, stuffing a fake punt attempt before reclaiming the lead. Pendergrass ripped off a 91-yard run, only for the Falcons to hunt him down just shy of the end zone. But Josh Brice pounded in from four yards several snaps later to make it 14-7.
After Blake found Brandt in the end zone to put the Stallions up three scores, McCoy scored a 45-yard touchdown almost identical to Usserys first half strike. That cut the home teams lead to 29-14 and had the Falcons thinking about a comeback. But Blake marched South Pointe right back down the field, eventually finding P.J. Heath with a short pass that the senior took into the end zone to stretch the lead to 35-14, and squeeze any accumulated wind out of the Falcons sails.
SOUTH POINTE 43, NATION FORD 14
SPHS C.J. Pendergrass 1 run (Logan Ard kick)
NFHS Dijuan Ussery 45 pass from Dalton Helms (Corey Condron kick)
SPHS Josh Brice 4 run (Ard kick)
SPHS Ard 31 field goal
SPHS Anthony Johnson 34 pass from Davonta Blake (kick blocked)
SPHS Kyle Brandt 32 pass from Blake (kick blocked)
NFHS A.K. McCoy 45 pass from Helms (Condron kick)
SPHS P.J. Heath 11 pass from Blake (two-point try failed)
SPHS Brice 2 run (Brice two-point run)
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS RUSHING NFHS: Dalton Helms 14-83; Daniel Jackson 13-70; Will Visbeck 1-2. SPHS: C.J. Pendergrass 12-118; Josh Brice 13-71; Davonta Blake 16-34; Devion Williams 1-7.
PASSING NFHS: Helms 11-31-6-2.SPHS: Blake 20-33-1-3.
RECEIVING NFHS: A.K. McCoy 5-78; Dijuan Ussery 2-62; Riley Hilton 2-21; Hank Tuipulotu 2-14. SPHS: P.J. Heath 6-72; DeShawn Davis 7-54; Kyle Brandt 4-61; Anthony Johnson 3-66.
RECORDS NFHS 5-2, 2-1; SPHS 7-0, 3-0